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Top trends of 2021: Four key IT predictions

After a year of complete unpredictability, it’s time to take a look at what 2021 has in store. Will the trends of the pandemic continue? How will businesses use technology as part of their recovery? What do we expect to be the key IT priorities for companies? In this article, we get out the crystal ball to answer all these questions and more…

Mike Laskey

Reasons for cautious optimism

While much remains up in the air, some of the challenges and opportunities that businesses will face in 2021 are clear to see. It promises to be a time for businesses to rebound strongly by embracing new ways of working and changing attitudes in the wake of COVID-19, new customs regulations and everything else that’s changed daily life in recent months.

Economic recovery won’t be easy. Emergency government funding schemes like furlough will eventually come to an end – though hopefully more because they are no longer necessary than because they can no longer be budgeted for. And of course, many companies have sadly already disappeared and their employees lost their jobs.

"Economic recovery won't be easy."

Still, many experts seem to think that businesses will be able to support themselves when the crutches of state support are removed, predicting a V-shaped recovery that will see the British economy come kicking and screaming back into life once COVID-19 infection rates have been reduced. 

Many economists are optimistic about a recovery in 2021

In fact, the Bank of England’s chief economist believed we had this kind of bounceback last summer, so it shouldn’t be unrealistic for a similar recovery to occur in 2021, at least to some extent.

It’s also true that lots of businesses have money to spend and good reasons to spend it. If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that those who had invested wisely in technology and modern systems were far better equipped to deal with change than their competitors.
 

The state of play for technology

Further work will be required to help businesses back out of the pandemic, and maintaining the right IT is always an ongoing process – so we can expect to see plenty of large transformational projects adopted across the board.

Market predictions for the next couple of years make for encouraging reading, too. Many leading analysts forecast that all key sectors will see growth, with technology, media and telecoms slated to grow by as much as 12% between 2020 and 2023.

"Maintaining the right IT is always an ongoing process."

Yet more good news for the technology sector is that digital solutions have never been more relevant.

In all areas of society, apps and devices have played a huge role since the outbreak of COVID-19, and many of the innovations we saw in 2020 are here to stay in 2021 and beyond.

The role of technology in education has grown dramatically

Think of test and trace or remote learning in the public sector; the services and technologies that power them will be in demand long after the pandemic has petered out, as they solve real-world problems that apply in other parts of daily life too.

And banks have long led the way in providing digital experiences to customers; the success of fintechs like Monzo and Starling Bank show that these kinds of experiences are only growing in popularity.
 

Looking forward: Our four key predictions

2021 will see continued change for technology companies. On-premises services and managed print have both declined significantly already with the move to remote working, and it’s difficult to see how they could ever return to their pre-pandemic levels.

Similarly, fewer customers have been interested in investing large sums into major infrastructure projects while adapting to COVID-19 – something providers will hope changes in the year ahead.

But as a TechTarget study of European IT respondents found that it was 12% harder for them to justify investments in servers, on-premise or colocation, that might be unlikely.
 

Working from home will continue to be commonplace
The rise and rise of remote working

Those gaps have already been filled by enormous growth in the provision of remote working and mobility solutions.

To us, this isn’t merely a trend or a short-lived reaction to government-imposed restrictions. It’s the future, an evolution of the workplace that started well before 2020, and as the next generation of employees joins the workforce we expect demand in remote and hybrid working to increase exponentially.

It was no surprise when a survey by McKinsey found that COVID-19 “speeded the adoption of digital technologies by several years” but noted that “these changes could be here for the long haul”.

In the immediate future, TechTarget respondents said it was 46% easier to justify investments in their remote working environment, while 50% of those surveyed were preparing to better enable their remote workforce for the future – clear signs of what’s to come in the rest of 2021.
 

Security comes to the fore

The surge in the number of company-owned devices used on home WiFi networks, not to mention employee-owned ones connecting to corporate servers, brings with it significant cybersecurity concerns.

Pre-pandemic Hiscox research found that a small to medium-sized business is hacked in the UK every 19 seconds, so you can see why so many IT managers are concerned about the dangers this poses.

We therefore predict widespread investment in attempts to improve security, such as efforts to deploy multi-factor authentication solutions.

This will in turn see yet wider adoption of Apple technology lauded for its strong credentials in this area. Mac, iPad and iPhone are renowned for their built-in data encryption, regular software updates and industry-leading privacy features, so we fully expect to see more new customers coming to Jigsaw24 for help in adopting secure Apple solutions.

"We predict widespread investment in efforts to improve security."


More emphasis on collaboration

With many colleagues unable to work together in the same place for so long, it’s only natural that employers want to ensure creativity and productivity don’t suffer.

Greater investment in collaboration tools is expected

Last year, perhaps the most obvious evidence of this was the rapid growth of video conferencing and instant messaging apps like Zoom and Microsoft Teams.

We’re expecting even greater investment in these kinds of collaboration tools in the year ahead, and we’re not alone – a survey on spending intentions by Nemertes Research revealed how more than half of respondents planned to increase their budgets for video apps, while 45% planned to invest more in team chat apps like Slack and Teams.

Furthermore, data from IDC analysis found that 48% of global businesses expect to increase their spending on collaboration software in 2021.

"48% of global businesses expect to increase their spending on collaboration software in 2021."

Many of our customers have more advanced demands, though – especially those in media and entertainment. We think our video over IP and PC over IP solutions, which make it easier for creatives to work together on projects remotely even if they’re away from their key hardware, will continue to be in high demand throughout 2021 and beyond.


Centre stage for Device as a Service

If you keep even a passing eye on the IT scene, you’ll probably have heard of the concept of Device as a Service, or DaaS for short. (You may have also heard of it from us, as we offer our own unique solution to our customers.)

In a nutshell, Device as a Service is where a customer acquires hardware that’s been pre-configured with the software and profiles they need by an expert provider, who may also provide accompanying services and specialist solutions under the same contract.

Arguably, while Device as a Service is listed as our fourth prediction list, it’s somewhat of a panacea to all of the challenges we’ve covered above. For starters, it’s ideal for remote working, providing employees with the technology they need to work from home while lessening the burden on their employers.

When COVID-19 hit, many companies realised that the benefits of DaaS tied in neatly with their own needs. Instead of purchasing computers in bulk with a huge initial outlay, then requiring their internal IT teams to slowly set them up and get them delivered to their remote workers, the DaaS model allowed them to move more quickly and effectively.

"The DaaS model allowed them to move more quickly."

But the advantages of DaaS go far beyond mere convenience and expediency. As an example, the packages we provide also provide an attractive level of flexibility; customers are able to scale their estate up or down by adding or removing devices within the terms of their contract, ensuring they can react however smooth or topsy-turvy their COVID-19 recovery becomes.

The devices are also paid for on an ongoing basis with lower – or zero – upfront costs, and it’s a purchasing model that can help businesses improve their return on investment by freeing up working capital.

Security is typically taken care of, with popular Apple products already boasting impressive features and providers also delivering services like mobile device management or multifactor authentication that further protect both user and business.

And again, collaboration can be enhanced by adding software licences, shared storage services or more technical solutions for creatives as part of the same contract. DaaS solutions – and indeed other “as a Service” offerings centred around different core services – are things we see dominating the IT landscape throughout 2021.

Whatever happens this year, it’s going to be fascinating to see it unfold.

Check out Our Insights for more features on all things technology.

Want to discuss the future of IT or discuss technology solutions for your business? Get in touch with our team of experts by calling 03332 400 888, emailing sales@Jigsaw24.com or filling in the form below. For the latest news, follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

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